My birthday at Spicers Balfour, some waterfalls and a sushi dinner
I decided to head back to my old stomping grounds of Brisbane and the Gold Coast hinterland on a whim. Given that it was just a long weekend getaway, there wasn’t anything special that I packed but here are two things I wish I’d brought. Keep reading to find out why.
- Trekking boots/solid walking shoes
It was my birthday so Wayn booked a beautiful room at Spicers Balfour in the hip, happening inner-city suburb of New Farm. He even organised chocolate dipped strawberries the size of my hand which greeted us the evening we arrived – so I felt utterly, utterly spoiled.
The following morning after an indulgent breakfast at our hotel, we decided to find ourselves some nice walking trails. The Natural Bridge in Springbrook National Park caught our eye, so with tummies full, off we went.
Pro Tip #1: If you ever plan to explore Gondwana rainforests anywhere in subtropical Australia, BRING WALKING SHOES. I wore thongs, and I quickly regretted this!
The road to the national park was especially scenic, winding through mountains covered in gums and past rural hamlets where cattle and horses browsed verdant paddocks. There was even a cute little fudge shop along Lyrebird Road, although we made a (wise) decision not to stop there.
We did however, choose to visit Purling Brook Falls en route to the Natural Bridge – which I came to regret about two hours into the trek. The trail here was a little slippery and even though we were generally descending, there were steep sections to traverse. Furthermore, it was very humid, so by the time we go to the waterfall, I was well and truly ready for a dip.
Pro Tip #2: Take ALL your rubbish home with you. To our dismay, there were drink bottles all around the trail some of which we took home with us to dispose of. Don’t be a litterbug!
Swimming is prohibited at Purling Brook Falls, but about 2km downstream was a swimming hole called Warringa Pool. I was so excited by the time we go here, I stripped off and literally ran down the slimy leaf-covered banks into the cool water. BIG MISTAKE.
I got ankle deep and realised that the water was murky – which completely freaked me out. So I decided to go sit on a rock and dip my legs in. After a few minutes, I decided to stroll over to the small cascade gushing over the ledge and when I pulled my legs out of the pool, I realised I had a few brown wiggly things stuck to my ankles and toes. LEECHES!!!
Pro Tip #3: Did I say to bring matches and salt? Maybe also gaiters. Perhaps a flame thrower. Whatever you do, don’t strip off, sit there and be leech bait.
It had taken us about two hours to get all the way down from the carpark. I reckon it took me just over an hour to leg my way all the way back to our starting point. In thongs. We could not get out of there quickly enough.
When I was certain I’d pulled every last leech off, we took off to the Natural Bridge. Once I’d sufficiently calmed down, I decided to look up what to do when leeches attack. So, the first thing I did when I saw a leech on my foot was to reach down and yank the bloody thing off. WRONG. Apparently, this causes them to throw up (your blood plus whatever else they have in their guts) back into the wound. Eugh. Worse, they might leave mouth parts or teeth behind in your skin. *vomit*
Pro Tip #4: So you’re supposed to let leeches drop off in their own time once they’ve drunk their fill. If you can’t wait that long, apply some table salt onto the leech or heat the blighter up with a small flame, so it gets so uncomfortable it stops feeding prematurely and lets go.
With that episode behind us, we made it to the Natural Bridge. A waterfall behind a stone arch, this beauty was certainly worth seeing. Created by a swift flowing stream carving its way through volcanic rock, this natural marvel is easily reached on foot by way of a shady track through rainforest. There’s also a little pool higher up where the water plunges over a precipice which gives you an idea of how this scenic wonder was formed.
Apparently the arch transforms into a glow worm cave at night but we didn’t stay long enough to see this happen. You also can’t go for a dip here, but hey, I was well over wanting to swim by now. Also don’t be tempted to use the flash on your camera in here – it’s believed that light negatively impacts the glow worms.
Pro Tip #5: We visited around 3pm in the afternoon. Perhaps time your visit either very early in the morning or late in the evening to maximise bird-watching and glow worm-viewing opportunities.
That night after a fun sushi dinner at Wagaya (where all orders are done electronically), I slipped gratefully into the bathtub in my sparkling white ensuite, indulgently using a full container of bath salts. As I got into full relaxation mode, I heard Wayn sputtering and swearing outside. Apparently, a leech had hitched a ride all day on his inner thigh – haha, this was truly a birthday to remember!
Read more about my travel experiences in Queensland here: